Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value~ Albert Einstein
I confess: I put that quote first because I thought it would grab more attention! I also think he’s right. Success is pretty relative. Sometimes just finishing the race is a win, even if we come in 423rd. The key is to be the judge of your own success instead of your own worst enemy.
It sounds a little simplistic, but the simple things are the hardest things more often than not. People talk about “loving yourself” and we roll our eyes and yawn. Yeah, yeah, yeah. But think of how we talk to ourselves; remember the last time we went on a binge? How did we handle that little mess? I’m betting there were a lot of recriminations, a lot of self-abuse. I read comments my fitness friends post and sometimes it’s more than a little scary. They say things like “I’m so disgusting! How can anyone love me?” “I look like a monster!” “I’m so fat, I’m a freak!” “I’m so ugly!” They are ashamed of themselves because they think they are failures. They aren’t pretty enough; they aren’t thin enough! The standards of health and beauty set by someone else have become their own, and they are beating themselves to death with these impossible standards! “Love sees not with the eyes but with the mind/ therefore is wing’d Cupid painted blind.” Good ol’ Bill the Bard goes on to make Titania a laughingstock for falling in love with the donkey-headed Bottom, but the truth of the matter remains unaltered: love sees with the mind, not with the eyes. When I was in high school (boy, does this date me!) Risky Business came out in theaters, and all the girls in my class were ga-ga over Tom Cruise. He’s a decent actor, but as far as “being cute,” he’s not my type! He’s pretty, and “pretty” doesn’t appeal to me (Now Russell Crowe is a totally different story!) Does most of the world think he’s a handsome guy? Maybe. I can think of a few who don’t.
Everyone has different standards for beauty, for health, for athleticism, and somehow, we’ve managed to sign up for standards that are impossible to achieve. I’m not saying we need to lower the bar, but we need to stop measuring our beauty and athleticism (or any quality) against people like Beyonce, Chris Hemsworth, Michael Phelps and Venus Williams. Not to knock these guys, but the world would be kind of boring if everyone were like them! (Good looking and healthy, but still really boring!) This is where Albert’s quote earns its keep here today: value is subjective! You can be a world class nuclear physicist, but if you can’t change the tire on your car, you’re not doing yourself a lot of good, are you? Of course a mechanic may not be the best person to explain what radioactive isotopes are and why they are important either (frankly, I have no idea!).
We all have value but somehow, many of us get stuck looking at ourselves as though the only thing that matters is measuring up to this unreachable standard. When we look in the mirror, we don’t see us: we see something that needs to be fixed! We see something defective and undesirable. We all remember the adage: “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure,” and how true that is! For example: my cockapoo was the leftover from his litter. When I saw his pic online, all I saw was the cutest little thing and I could not wait to get him! I showed his pic to a coworker of mine who’s had cockapoos, and his reaction was “oh, …..it’s a boy?….and he’s all black?” Yep! Completely black! My family teases me sometimes by asking “where’s his eyes? How can you tell which direction he’s looking?” And yes, his first few pics at home were just big black blobs! He was still at the breeder because no one else wanted him but I wouldn’t trade him for anything! When I saw him, my first thought “he’s so cute!!” I wasn’t thinking about how he was completely black from nose to tail, or that he was male (frankly, I like boy dogs): all I saw was an adorable little pup. It’s the same with my cats; they have all been “defective rejects/ returns” for one or another reason. One (Yzma) is a tortoise shell who wasn’t “pretty enough”; another (Belle) actually lost a back leg to an accident as a kitten; and the newest (Ursula) is an all black kitten whose “fur is too long” (whatever that means!) When I got Ursula, there was a mix up and the kitten I was supposed to take home had been given to someone else, and I told her mom’s owner that my primary criteria was her temperament: I just wanted a kitten who would get along with Remy (my “defective” cockapoo). I don’t particularly care what she looks like (my first pick had been gray). All of them are sweet mellow creatures who love to play, be held and get along with each other most of the time. That was all I was looking for and their “hair shall be of what colour it please God!”
This last quote (Much Ado About Nothing) is another good example. Claudio falls in love immediately with Hero and Benedick criticizes his choice, calling her “Leonato’s short daughter” saying that Beatrice, although a shrew, is a much better choice. Later in the play, in the soliloquy where the above quote appears, Benedick enumerates the traits he wants in a wife, and looks are not tops on the list. I am the first to admit that I am not mainstream: I’m short, obese, and wear glasses.I’m also terribly opinionated and not shy about sharing my opinions. (The technical term is “b*itch.”) I make no apologies- life is too short to spend it living up to someone else’s standards. I once dated a guy in college who ended our relationship when he realized I was smarter than he was. I was tutoring him in English and I’ve met rocks who are sharper than he was when it came to poetry! I’m not going to apologize for being smart or educated, but as far as he was concerned, I was an “uppity smart-a$$ b*tch.” His response was to make me feel as ugly and worthless as possible. For awhile, it worked and then I realized the only way he could make himself feel smarter was to make me feel worthless and that was the end of those tears!
I used to be very hard on myself because I didn’t fit the mainstream ideal of what a woman should be. I didn’t “act right” and I sure didn’t look “right.” I’ve had other guys tell me that my “girlish, feminine qualities” are lacking! Frankly, I’ve never been “delicate and feminine.”(I remember watching the old Flash Gordon serials as a ten year old and getting really irritated at Dale “Scream and Faint” Arden.) As for my appearance, other than losing weight and wearing contacts (yuck!), I am always going to be short. I could dye my hair, wear the itchy contacts (preferably blue or green colored), lose a lot of weight and act like a demure brainless coquette, and then I would have all the guys I wanted! Wow! All I would have to do to get “society’s” approval is to become a totally different person! I just have to not be me! That would also mean keeping my mouth shut and we all know that ain’t gonna happen without a stapler!
Be who you are and say what you feel because those who mind don’t matter and those who matter don’t mind~ Dr. Seuss
This is one of the reasons I think kids need to read a lot of Dr. Seuss. The linguistic acrobatics aside, there is a great deal of wisdom in his writings. When I said what I thought to that rock-headed dolt of a boyfriend, he went from the “those who matter” category to the “those who mind don’t matter” category. The ones who love you for your true value will always love you for being your true self. When you look in the mirror, you need to see beyond the surface, because ultimately beauty fades, muscles grow weak, and hair goes gray (if it stays at all), but the soul inside will only grow stronger. That is the true beauty and value of a person. Being short, fat, tall, bony, bald, beautiful, whatever- all of this is changeable and temporary at best! If you try all your life and are never thin, the people who truly love you will still love you. You need to be one of those people!